Sunday, March 17, 2013

Ernst Haeckel's Phony Embryo Drawings

Ernst Haeckel
Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919) was a German zoologist and physician, who discovered thousands of biological species and helped popularize Darwinism. He also contributed extensively to the conceptual framework of modern biology, coining such terms as "phylum," "stem cell," and "ecology." Unfortunately, Haeckel was a bit too zealous to defend Darwin's theory, and he ended up falsifying a considerable amount of evidence. An experienced artist, he famously examined the embryological development of numerous organisms and sketched drawings of various stages of their growth, ultimately compiling his drawings into charts to prove his claim that "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny" (the view that each stage in the development of an individual organism reflects an adult stage of an evolutionary ancestor). Haeckel's drawings were accepted without question throughout most of the 20th century. Even today, many biology textbooks contain samples of his drawings, such as the following:
Compare a few of Haeckel's sketches with actual photographs of embryos:

Obviously, some of Haeckel's drawings bear little resemblance to the developmental stages of actual organisms. Here's a video by the Discovery Institute with more:

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